No sooner had this week's magazine editorial column – pondering the question of whether other artists would be looking to follow Ed Sheeran's two-single approach – gone to press, than the first announcement rolled in. Tinie Tempah dropped two, very different tracks in the form of Text From Your Ex and Chasing Flies, which suggests more than a few managers/artists may have rung their label up in the last couple of weeks and asked if they too can launch their campaigns with twin singles.
Ed Sheeran’s marketing masterstroke of releasing Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill simultaneously may not have been a brand new idea – some of us are old enough to remember the Manic Street Preachers putting out Found That Soul and So Why So Sad on the same day, while artists often used to push different tracks to different formats in the US – but it is a potential game-changer.
Why? Well, in the old days – as the Manics found when they hit No.8 and No.9 in 2001 – people were less likely to buy both new songs at the same time. In the streaming age, almost everyone seems to have checked out both tracks at least once, unlocking potentially more revenue, but also ensuring it’s a much wider sampling exercise.
Nor does the fact that Shape Of You is, um, shaping up to be the bigger hit matter. Because the two songs are very different, Shape can hoover up the ’20 Ultimate Pop Bangers’ streaming playlist slots while Castle’s guitar-heavy vibe takes Sheeran to radio places he wouldn’t necessarily normally reach, such as Radio X. Between the two, all bases are covered, and then some.
How much other artists can really learn from this remains to be seen, of course. After all, the simple act of being Ed Sheeran contributed significantly to the approach working. But, as we move slowly but inexorably away from the album being the centre of every release campaign, don’t be surprised to see plenty of other artists contemplating doubling down on their comebacks.
So, if you haven’t already made that call, now’s the time…